Abortions On Rise In Central Kentucky; Signs Not Consistent With MRLS

Abortions On Rise In Central Kentucky; Signs Not Consistent With MRLS
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
The abortion rate in Central Kentucky is up significantly from a year ago. But scientists aren't sure why there has been an increase.

"At this time, there is nothing that is fully consistent with MRLS (mare reproductive loss syndrome)," said Dr. Lenn Harrison, the director of the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center in Lexington, on Jan. 31. "We haven't identified the same patterns of bacteria, lesions, and other things that are associated with the disease."

According to figures released on Jan. 27, the center had received 134 aborted fetuses since Jan. 1, a total that was up by 35.4% from the 99 received at the same point in 2002. However, full examinations of the most recent 40 submissions had not been completed as of late January. Harrison expected all the results to be available around Feb. 5.

"The basic post-mortems have been done, but it takes 10 days to two weeks after we receive a fetus to complete all the microscopic work and various tests," he said.

The number of abortions reported, so far, by the center were compiled during the first four weeks of the year. For the fifth week, Harrison said the number appeared to be down from last year's total of 30 for in 2002.

The weekly totals reported by the center so far in 2003 were 35 compared to 22 in 2002 for the first week; 33 compared to 31 for the second week; 26 compared to 24 for the third week; and 40 compared to 22 for the fourth week.

Harrison said there might be more mares foaling early this year, which could be a factor in the increase in abortions.

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